Emergency Eyewash in the House
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
The second exhibition project by Emergency Eyewash—the umbrella name for collaborative undertakings by Carol Szymanski, Barry Schwabsky and others in the realm of art, writing, design, sound, and whatever else presents itself to be done—brings together works by artists of distinctly different backgrounds, generations, and styles, yet finds surprising affinities among them.
Apostolos Georgiou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, and currently lives in Athens. His paintings were included in Documenta 14, 2017, and are currently on view in one-person shows at Rodeo, London, and the Frank J. Yang Art and Education Foundation, Shenzhen, China. His enigmatic compositions convey a sort of absurd geometry of everyday situations—what he’s called “a box of emotions ready to explode at any moment.”
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov were born in Dnipropetrovsk in the former USSR and now live in Long Island. Their installations and paintings have been shown to worldwide acclaim and can presently be seen at the Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, in a traveling show previously at the Tate Modern, London. With wit and pathos, their works turn memories of a no-longer-existing state, the Soviet Union, into the material for a persistent realm whose resonances are as universal as those of James Joyce’s hyperreal Dublin or William Faulkner’s imaginary Yoknapatawpha County.
Xiaofu Wang was born in Wuhan, China, and studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, from which she received her MFA in 2017. She presently lives in Brooklyn. Her exuberant abstract paintings are a strange and contradictory mixture of restraint and excess, airy openness and almost claustrophobic condensation. What is their subject—a celebration or a nightmare?
A similarly ambivalent quality may account for the secret agreement among these very different artists, whom we have brought together, not to illustrate a theme, but simply as a gathering of friends. All of them have in some way been touched by the aesthetically discountenanced counter-modernism known as social realism. This is most obvious, of course, in the case of the Kabakovs, but Wang’s education in China too was imbued by the tenets of social realism—which she says has left a permanent mark on her underlying drawing, however distant her paintings’ high-keyed color and restless space—while Georgiou often speaks of a “Soviet” quality to his style, evident in the heavy presence of his everyman or -woman figures, a world where everyone is equal to the point of anonymity. All the artists ask if we truly feel at home just because we are in the house.
Emergency Eyewash in the House will be on view at 71 Ludlow Street #3A on Sunday, May 6, from 6-9 pm, and thereafter by appointment only through Saturday, June 30. To make an appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on view on May 6 will be the latest Emergency Eyewash clothing line, a collaboration between Carol Szymanski and Xiaofu Wang under the label F-E by Emergency Eyewash—special thanks to Barbara Drucker, dressmaker, and Thomas Toye, silkscreen printer. The viewing on May 6 will be filmed by Lanny Jordon Jackson for a future Emergency Eyewash video starring Alex Robins and Lilly Lampe. And we are pleased to welcome Sophie Seita and Jocelyn Spaar who will be performing scenes from Sophie’s new work Emilia Galotti’s Colouring Book of Feelings, a queer-feminist multimedia performance piece, a conceptual closet drama that stages imagined tête-a-têtes with Enlightenment thinkers, writers, and pseudo-scientists.
Please see our website more information about Emergency Eyewash at https://www.emergencyeyewash.org/